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Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops to stay in Lexington amidst Texas A&M rumors

Abbey Cutrer
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops walks through the Cat Walk before the Kentucky vs. Alabama football game on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo Abbey Cutrer | Staff

After a hectic few hours, Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops confirmed he will not be the Texas A&M head coach in the foreseeable future and will return to Lexington.

In a social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Stoops emphasized he wasn’t going anywhere, saying “I knew in my heart I couldn’t leave the University of Kentucky right now.”

Stoops’ confirmation was the final nail in the coffin after KSR’s Matt Jones, and subsequently ESPN’s Pete Thamel and The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, all confirmed the head coach would not leave for College Station.

The announcements came as a complete 180 after reputable sources such as 247Sports and Rivals seemed to indicate that the head coach’s departure was imminent.

While rumors began swirling earlier in the week, fuel wasn’t truly added to the fire until Saturday morning when Thamel mentioned that Stoops was a leading candidate for the A&M job on College GameDay.

The Wildcats, led by Stoops, then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, where they finished their regular season with a 38-31 win over No. 10 Louisville, officially ending the Cardinals’ playoff hopes. The win marked the fifth straight over UofL.

When asked postgame about the Texas A&M job, Stoops avoided the question.

“You know better than that,” he said. “This is a big win for our state, for our program and our team. I’ve been keeping my concentration focused on this team, that’s all.”

While the rumor mill seemed to slow down after the win, things came to a head late Saturday night when Rivals’ Mark Passwaters of AggieYell said the deal was likely “barring a last minute collapse.”

The news left some Kentucky fans somber, with many taking to X to say things such as, “I’m sorry we didn’t appreciate you like we should’ve,” and, “Thank you for giving this program a purpose.”

On the other side of the coin, some Aggie fans were livid at the decision to hire Stoops, taking to message boards to voice their displeasure saying things such as, “All to do now is pull a Tenn,” – referencing how Tennessee fans all but single-handedly reversed the university’s decision to hire Greg Schiano after voicing their displeasure – and, “This is a nightmare.”

With Stoops seemingly back in Lexington for the foreseeable future, the Wildcats returned their winningest coach in program history after he surpassed Paul “Bear” Bryant during the 2022 season.

The Wildcats’ win over the Cardinals saw them finish the 2023 regular season 7-5 and, while many fans expressed frustration at the down year, the Cats clinched an eighth straight bowl game appearance, which marks the longest streak in program history.

On top of that, Stoops himself has been at the helm for two 10-win seasons in Lexington, doubling the program total to four seasons with 10 or more wins.

A bowl destination has yet to be announced for Kentucky, but the Wildcats will have the opportunity to win eight or more games for the fourth time under Stoops at a date to be decided.

Texas A&M has yet to officially announce its next head coach.

Sports editor Cole Parke can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @ColeParke_wsc

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor
Abbey Cutrer, Managing/Photo Editor

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